Oregon Coast Officials Clarify Rules, Laws on Seals and Sea Lions
(Oregon Coast) Oregon Coast Beach Connection recently caught some interesting interaction between humans and a group of seals in Waldport, and something about it didn't seem quite right. Using a powerful zoom lens, staff happened to catch a group of people getting a bit too close to a group of harbor seals hanging out on the end of the spit.
The humans are clearly less than ten feet from the critters. So, is this even legal? This question was posed to Brandon Ford at the Newport office of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and his answers may surprise some.
“Although the people in the photos likely meant no harm, their behavior is technically 'harassment,' which is a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA),” Ford said. “Harassment occurs when human behavior changes a marine mammal’s behavior.”
Ford said the National Marine Fisheries Service has guidelines for what not to do when it comes to approaching seals and sea lions. The guidelines say that pinnipeds on land are especially sensitive to human and vessel disturbance, and even some intentional activity nearby can cause them to feel threatened and run, which can in turn be a violation. So great caution is urged if you see them on land.
Click here to read the rest of the article.
For more information on the San Juan Islands and the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network, click here.